Can Your Social Media Stop You From Getting a Job?

Employers and recruiters use social media screening regularly in the present day to find out more about a candidate and decide whether they are suitable for the job.

Over the last few decades, social media has taken the world by storm, with over 3.6 billion people actively using a social network (Statista, 2020). This means that nearly half of the world’s population has a profile online for others to view. Because of this, social media is increasingly part of everyday life and can be a great way to find out more information about an individual.

Unfortunately, many people think that only their friends will see their drunken posts and inappropriate behaviour, but employers around the world are using social media screening to help select appropriate candidates. Luckily, there are ways to prevent social media screening from ruining your chances at securing a role, and we’re here to help!

What is Social Media Screening?

Social Media Screening refers to an individual searching and looking through someone else’s social media profile to find out certain information. In business, many employers, recruiters and social media screening agencies will look through a candidate’s social media profiles to find out whether they are suitable for the role, and if they have any inappropriate content that could suggest they are not a good fit for the job. Businesses like to perform social media screening to help with background checks and to identify any red flags relating to the individual. A huge 70% of employers conduct social media screening (CareerBuilder, 2018) which means it is paramount that you review your own social profiles before applying for your next job.

Why Does Social Media Screening Take Place?

Employers, hiring managers and recruiters carry out social media screening to help with the hiring decision and find a candidate that fits in with the company and workplace culture best. Companies want to ensure that applicants are professional and look for things like discriminatory comments, criminal behaviour, and any other social content that could be offensive. Whether you use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram, your name could be searched for across the internet, so you must ensure that your digital footprint is clean and the social media sites you use to post online allow you to edit your privacy settings.

A background check through your social media pages can be extremely helpful as a part of the hiring process and can help employers decide whether the information on your social accounts matches the information you provided them with on your CV.

Which Social Media Activity Will Hinder My Chances as a Job Candidate?

When performing your own social media background checks, you should think about employers and what they would make of you as a candidate. This means any drunken or explicit photos should be removed or changed to private so only close friends can view them. Other content that goes against social media policy such as discrimination against a certain religion, gender or race is extremely unsuitable and will impact your chances at securing a job.

Posts that talk negatively about a person or past employer can also be taken badly by the hiring company so it is vital you keep your social platforms positive, clean and professional. To summarise, the content you should avoid posting on social networks includes:

  • Drunken or explicit photos
  • Discriminatory posts
  • Derogatory content against previous employers
  • Illegal behaviour

Now that you are aware of how many employers carry out candidate based social media screening, you can ensure that you only post content that displays you in a good light. If you want to increase your chances of getting hired, you should use your social media platforms to highlight your skills, experience and interests.

You can also share and comment on industry-related news to show a business that you are passionate about the role. Setting up and using a LinkedIn profile for these professional posts is a popular way to interact with employers online and increase your chances of being a successful job candidate.

How Do I Edit My Privacy Settings on Facebook and Instagram?

When creating a social media profile, you will always have an online presence that employers and other individuals can search for. However, if you set up your privacy settings correctly, employers and recruiters will only be able to see what you choose to allow. We highly recommend that job seekers review their privacy settings on their social media profiles so that when employers screen candidates, there is nothing that could hinder their chances at securing a job.

Facebook Desktop

On desktop, you can edit your privacy settings by heading to the ‘Settings & Privacy’ page through the arrow in the top right of the screen. Once you are on settings, choose ‘Privacy’ to find out who can view your posts and information. Facebook has a great feature called ‘Privacy Checkup’ which will take you through each setting and help you change who can view your profile. You can find the Privacy Checkup by clicking on ‘Check a few important settings’.

Facebook Mobile

Click the 3 horizontal lines in the bottom right-hand(iOS)/left-hand (Android) corner of the Facebook app and scroll down to find ‘Settings & Privacy’.

Click on ‘Privacy shortcuts’ to review important privacy settings for your profile.

Facebook security settings


Instagram offers a simple feature to prevent an employer from viewing your photos. The private profile option means that only people who request to follow you can view and interact with the content that you upload.

To find this setting, click on the 3 horizontal lines in the top right-hand corner of the Instagram app. Click on ‘Settings’ and then ‘Privacy’. Here, you can toggle whether your profile is private or public, as well as edit other privacy settings, such as who can comment on your photos, tag you and mention your name.

Instagram security settings

When performing your own social media background check you should also try to search for your social media profiles in an incognito window, logged out of all platforms as though you are searching as an employer. This will show you what people can see of you and your content without being logged in. Some companies even review their current employees’ social media footprint to ensure that their teams are professional online. As an employee, it is incredibly important to avoid writing anything negative about an employer online.

Career Services at WorkPaths

Here at WorkPaths, we offer professional career support and guidance for those that may not be eligible for government-funded initiatives. Whether you are struggling to write your CV or would like help preparing for an interview – we can help. Find out more information by contacting us at or calling +4428 9595 3301

Get help with employment today and work to secure your dream role.

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